Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico arrests 'drug lord' Edgar Valdez

Edgar Valdez under arrest, 30 August 2010 Image copyright Other
Image caption The US had offered a $2m reward for information on Edgar Valdez

Mexican police have arrested alleged drug trafficker Edgar Valdez, a US citizen also known as Barbie, Mexico's attorney general says.

Officials said he put up little resistance when he was captured in a residential area near Mexico City.

Edgar Valdez is linked to the influential Beltran Leyva drug cartel.

Mr Valdez has been fighting Hector Beltran Leyva for control of the gang, previously led by his brother Arturo until he was shot dead last December.

Earlier this month, police found four decapitated bodies hanging from a bridge in the city of Cuernavaca and their heads were discovered nearby with a message warning that anyone supporting Edgar Valdez would risk a similar fate.

National security spokesman Alejandro Poire told a news conference Mr Valdez had links with criminals across South and Central America.

"This capture constitutes a blow of great impact against organised crime," he said.

Analysts believe his capture will be a boost for President Felipe Calderon, who launched a high-profile fight against the drugs gangs after taking office in 2006.

Mr Calderon hailed the arrest on the Twitter website, calling Mr Valdez "one of the most-wanted criminals in Mexico and abroad".

The US authorities had offered $2m (£1.3m) for information leading to the arrest of the 37-year-old, who was also known as "El Comandante" and "El Guero", as well as "Barbie", because of his fair complexion and blue eyes.

Mr Valdez has been charged with distributing thousands of kilos of cocaine in the eastern US between 2004 and 2006.

His arrest comes weeks after security forces killed Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel, a top member of the Sinaloa drug cartel and believed to be the right-hand man of Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, the country's most-wanted drug lord.

The war against the drug cartels has left some 28,000 people dead since Mr Calderon came to power.

He has deployed the army against the traffickers in many parts of the country, despite the opposition of many of his critics.

The federal police force in Mexico said on Monday it had sacked almost 10% - some 3,200 - of its officers this year for corruption, incompetence or links to criminals.

Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation

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